Cardio is Dead, Long Live Cardio

I read this article (The Final Nail in the Cardio Coffin) and struggled to figure out where to agree and where to violently disagree .

Being a runner and triathlete I obviously have some bias, yet I currently own a gym that specializes in high intensity interval training, I am a personal trainer and yoga instructor, so I have some level of knowledge in both areas.

The main implication of the original article is that cardio (whatever that means to you) will not lean you out, or will, over time, provide less and less weight loss benefit.

The issue with cardio is one of definition. People equate running, jogging and biking type activities with cardio, but the reality is that anything that gets your heart rate elevated for an extended period of time can be considered cardio.

But remember, the converse is also true…if you perform traditional cardio exercises and do not achieve an elevated heart rate then you are not doing a cardio exercise.

The key word here is INTENSITY!

Compare:

  • Jogging, 5km/h – 60 mins, 450 calories
  • Running, 10km/h – 60 mins, 730 calories
  • Running, 15 km/h – 60 mins, 1400 calories

If you jog for an hour then eat like you ran 15 km in that same hour you are just asking to gain weight!

At the end of the day it is basic math, calories in versus calories out.

Doing cardio activities is no guarantee that you are burning enough calories to lose weight. If you are not cardio-ing as hard as you think you are…you are not burning as many calories as you think and, surprise surprise, you are not leaning out as much as you think you should.

We see this all the time, people come in, do a HiiT class then consume a protein shake containing 350 calories…and then head home for lunch or dinner. The result is actually a negative impact on their weight. They may be toning up but they will not be leaning out.

And some of the statements in the original article are incredibly misleading…for example…

“Some of the workouts included […] nine-hour sessions […] 10-mile run,  70-mile bike ride, and finish with another 4-mile run”.

First off, let us not downplay the amazing accomplishment that is the 9 hour workout. It requires incredible focus, dedication and perseverance.

However, let us actually break down the numbers…

  • 10 mile run (16km for those Canadian’s in the crowd)
  • 70 mile bike (112km)
  • 4 mile run (6.5 km)
  • Total 9 hrs

At my fastest my time for doing that type of workout would be (1hr + 3.5 hrs + 30 mins), call it 5.5 hrs to be generous. Yet the author is taking 8 or 9 hrs for the same distance, obviously a less INTENSE session.

An important follow up questions, how many calories are consumed during the 8 hour workout? Is this added into the total for the day or the week? I am going to suggest that most people do not count the calories consumed during a long cardio workout (gatorade, power bars, gel packs) yet this total is VERY significant. You are literally unable to do a 8 hour workout without significant calorie intake during the session.

This is not a criticism but maybe the 2400 calories consumed in a day, which is the high end for of the scale for an “active” woman, is too high for the level of intensity undertaken, thus minimizing weight loss.

It is true that aerobic capacity (cardio efficiency) is greatly increased by the amount of aerobic (cardio) exercise you do and yes, your body will get more efficient and burn less total calories. But isn’t that the end goal of aerobic (cardio) training? You are training your body to be efficient and perform to and beyond it’s current limits.

If you want to believe cardio does not make you lean I can provide two counter examples :run tri

  • Example 1
  • Age 27
  • Training focus – triathlon
  • Weight 165lbs, body fat 8%
  • Training hours per week – 20 – mainly cardio, running, biking, swimming
  • All heavy weight work was in off season (mainly leg work)
  • 1NTENSITY LEVEL – 10km time – 35mins, Olympic distance Triathlon time – 2 hrs
  • Age group winner in races
  • Calories consumed per day – 3000-ish
  • (please excuse the speedo it was the 80s 😉

  • Example 2
  • age 50Spartan Beast
  • Training focus – Spartan Races (hilly trail running with obstacles)
  • Weight 175 lbs, body fat 13%
  • Training hour per week 10 to 15, mix of running and HiiT with weight training all year round
  • INTENSITY LEVEL – 10km time – 45 mins, Spartan Beast (21km hills) – 3:45 hrs
  • Age group winner in races (5, 12, and 21km)
  • Calories consumed per day 2500-ish

Weight loss has nothing to do with cardio, but that does not mean you should give up cardio.

Getting lean has nothing to do with lifting weights, but that doesn’t mean you should stop lifting weights.

Aerobic activity (cardio) will burn calories, raise your heart rate and improve your cardio-vascular health.

Weight training will improve muscle definition, strengthen muscle groups and protect joints that undergo stress during your cardio sessions.

Cutting calories (dieting) will cause you to lean out but will not help your aerobic fitness or develop muscle tone (see the definition of skinny-fat)

High intensity weight training will elevate heart rate (for a short period of time) and build muscle and improve muscle definition.

High intensity training will not prepare you for even medium duration cardio activities of any type, just ask all the gym-rats at the end of the first climb of a Spartan race, they look great at the start and then flame out after 20 mins of hilly running.

But remember – Any activity is good activity!!!!

It really is simple

  1. Get active
  2. Pick an activity that you can maintain over days/weeks/months so you don’t get bored
  3. Gradually Increase your intensity, challenge yourself always.
  4. Eat the proper number of calories for the level of intensity you are performing

You will lean out, regardless of the workout you are doing.

Startups (are) for dummies

OK not really..and given that I have been involved with more than 20 start ups in my time I am kicking myself just as hard as the next guy who dreams of bootstrapping his (or her) self to technology stardom.

Truth be told startups drive innovation in high-tech. Progress would be slower if garage entrepreneurs, home coders, open source proponents and other “not-for-profit” developers were not so incredibly active in the high-tech industry.

I stumbled across this essay by Paul Graham (local pdf copy here) that had me laughing and crying and nodding my head in self-deprecating acknowledgement all at the same time. It feels like I have a story (or three) for ever point that he makes. Given that I get asked about once a week whether I think an idea is worthy of investigation and/or eventually turning into a startup I thought I would add my two cents to Paul’s essay.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have never taken a startup all the way to a billion (or even million) dollar takeout by a larger company. The most successful I have been is running (with a partner) a small consulting company for 5 years that kept 6 techies gainfully employed. I have started, either alone or with other people 4 companies. I have been involved at the early stages of at least 20 others, a few of which became viable corporate entities, most of which ended after a few conversations at the same coffee table in the same coffee shop where they started.

I know I have become jaded by failure and burnt out by the endless hours and “wasted” effort but I know that each new idea creates an enthusiastic and optimistic rush of excitement and desire to jump right into it. I like to think I am maturing as an engineer and becoming more deliberate in my assessment of each new idea.

I have probably invested $150K…real cash dollars…in various initiatives, I don’t even want to think about the total value (cost!) of salary I have deferred in return for shares or options in various start ups.

I have spent countless hours trying to convince investors to put money in to various ventures and even more time trying to come up with rational arguments to use to convince said investors to part with their hard earned money.

I have spent innumerable other hours trying to convince normally intelligent engineers and programmers to throw logic and their better judgement to the wind  to come work for the startup of the week for considerably less than they are worth on the open market.

Both types of conversations always leave me feeling a bit dirty and this leads me to my first point about startups…

1. Get down on your knees and thank anyone who is kind enough to give you money, time, advice, equipment or even free coffee and bagels for your startup. Given that 9 out of 10 venture funded startups eventually fail, 99 out of 100 self funded startups fail and probably 999 out of 1000 startup ideas die on the vine, anyone who gives you anything is making the equivalent of a charitable donation without the benefit of a tax receipt.

The easiest way to fund a start up is to do it yourself. If you are lucky enough to have an existing venture that you can use to kick it off or you get a nice severance from another company or your domestic partner is filthy rich or you have a nice nest egg stashed away and are willing to roll the dice with it…off you go. But remember the failure rate for startups, remember that the money you spend is far safer buried in the backyard or hidden under your mattress until you regain your sanity.

This brings me to my second point…

2. You had better have an incredibly understanding domestic partner. They are watching you burn, not only cash but time, potential salary, hard earned saving and southern vacation opportunities. Think about the strain on your domestic relationship that not working will cause. Most of us can afford to miss a paycheck or two…can you afford to miss 10, 20, 100? Not only are you not getting a salary but you are likely spending money as well, a little bit here, a little bit there. This type of behavior is not something that most partners are comfortable dealing with, not for long anyway.

It is no coincidence that most of the people you meet in startups, the ones you see in the Google and Microsoft ads are young and single, they are the people that start ups hire. These people will work 100 hour weeks on the chance the startup will be successful. These people will take less salary because they have less to lose than the 35 year old with two kids and a mortgage.

Third point…

3. It takes a long time to get the revenue rolling in. It takes even longer before you are in a position to pay yourself. And you can always convince yourself that the first real revenue is just around the corner and that your first real paycheck is following soon after. But it rarely is, it is always much, much farther away that you think. And your investors and other companies you have to deal with know you are small and desperate and will take advantage of that fact to get you to do more work and wait longer for cash than normal companies. If you are one of the main founders you are likely to get paid last and be the first to be asked to defer salary (if you are even getting one). You and your founding partners had better be aligned on this, nothing creates tension in a startup faster than differing needs and attitudes about money.

Fourth point…

4. Pick your startup partners well. Nothing creates tension in your startup faster than differing attitudes…about anything. Remember you will be working close beside this person 8, 10, 12 hours each day, weekends, nights, traveling together, probably sharing hotel rooms (depending on your finances), you had better be aligned. Ask yourself, do I have the same goals, the same needs, the same work ethic as my business partner?

Ask yourself, do I need a partner?

I remember telling an associate in a startup (two in fact) that someone had to be king. Someone has to make the decisions and someone has to be responsible for the ultimate success or failure  of the venture. By all mean surround yourself with good people, ask their advice, actually take their advice but make a decision and stick with it. My feeling is that it is better to strike off in the wrong direction for a while, see where you end up, see what you discover than to sit, mired in indecision while your employees begin to question your leadership ability.

One of the great engineering tenets is that you learn more from failure than from success….and I would add…as long as you eventually succeed 😉


Here is my Top Ten list, for people starting companies.

Top Ten List – Things to Think About When Starting a Startup

1. Make sure you can live without a paycheck for at least a year…seriously 12 months…no income..trust me you will need the runway.

2. Pick you business partners well…you will be married to these people, you will see them more than your domestic partner and family…you better trust them with your new venture.

3. Figure out your idea…tell people about it…patent it if possible..but tell people…accept their input, their critisism…be rational…if this idea doesn’t work there will always be another. My patent lawyer (who is also an angel investor) told me that he will refuse to talk to you if you feel you can’t talk publicly about your idea. If your idea is so simple that telling him about it will put the entire venture into jeopardy then it probably isn’t that good or unique an idea. Tell people, judge their reactions, practice your pitch, you will need that pitch to raise awareness and raise money…you better be ready with the money shot when you get your 30 seconds in the elevator with Bill Gates.

4. Surround yourself with smart people, hire them, put them on an advisory board, have lunch with them, get drunk with them…know you are not going to do this on your own…there is just too much to think about.

5. Find an office where you can be together as a team. Everyone wants to start a company in their basement or in two or three basements, communicating using email and MSN but there is nothing to replace the interaction that comes from being face to face, talking in front of a white board over stale pizza. That is where the magic happens. You will be asked to consider off-shoring especially if you are taking any investment from VCs. Resist the urge…if you can’t sit beside your guys and help them solve issues you are asking for problems, you have lost control, it is not your baby anymore. Outsourcing will come, once you are bigger and successful…when you are little you need to be close to your idea, to nurture your idea and make it grow.

6. Treat your people well. There is no conversation I hate more than the “let see if we can sweat the guys” conversation I always have with founders. These people are making your dream happen, share the dream and it is not always about money, be creative and get them involved.

7. Options are worthless, do not try to use them as incentive programs. Unless you are a well funded, rapidly expanding company with actual sales in a growth market (biotech perhaps?) the probability that the options in your company will ever be worth anything are almost zero. Your employees know that and will laugh at the offer. If they don’t understand  the options are worthless then shame on you for making the offer.

8. Get your idea into the market…polish it only as much as necessary to make your customers want it. If it is a good idea it will take off, if it is a bad idea the polish will not fool them for long. Let the market decide if the idea is good and do it before you run out of money. If you give yourself a year it is always better to find out after three months whether the idea was good or not…give you time to adjust, to refine or to stop…if you polish the apple for the entire 12 months you only get one shot.

9. Market your idea. Too many technical people create something and then expect the world to come calling. If no one knows about your new gadget how will they know they need it. Why would you spend $1m building something and then spend $10K trying to tell people about it. Gaming companies sometimes spend more on marketing than on development. Marketing can make a bad idea successful, not marketing will never make a good idea successful. I am not suggesting you throw money away frivolously, but understand this thing is not going to sell itself. Hire a sales guy, hire a marketing gal, tell your friends, ask them to tell their friends, do a late night TV infomercial but get the word out. Be creative, you need to rise above the crowd, stand out from the herd.

10. Have fun. That what this is about people, a startup is not a job it is a calling. You are doing it to create something special…enjoy the ride.

(reposted on Associated Content)

Marketing your iPhone Application – A Starter’s Guide

So, you have created your first (or tenth) iPhone app and want to start selling it. Well according to Apple, all you have to do is upload it to the App Store and wait for the cash to start rolling in.

But wait, you just noticed the other 500,000 apps in the App Store!

Where is your app?

Why is no one downloading it?

Well, just like in all other aspects of business and marketing if no one knows where to find it, or they don’t even know it exists why do you think they are going to buy it?

Selling your app is all about exposure (marketing), but marketing does not have to mean dollars, if you use a bit of common sense and are willing to put in some effort you should be able to get your app noticed and convince a few people to download it. Don’t fool yourself though, if your app sucks people will figure it out and then all the marketing in the world will not earn you another dollar.

Provided below are some helpful pointers here to help get your app noticed, and hopefully turn that interest into sales.

The first step though is building the app correctly and that requires…


Focus

Focus, can’t say this enough. Keep the app focused to a specific function. Mobile computing, including the iPhone, is all about casual usage and impulse purchases. No one sits down to use the iPhone for two hours, or even 10 minutes. They bounce in and out of apps, games, texts, phone calls. One function at a time, easy, immediate access to the function is key, no searching through menus will be tolerated.

The mistake some developers make is in trying to differentiate their apps by adding extra features, hoping those extra features make their app more appealing to the end user. But remember how the iPhone is used, if your users have to search for a feature inside your application they will get frustrated and stop using it (the Settings app created by Apple is a perfect example of how not to develop something).

Hint: If you have 10 distinct functions in your app why not build 10 apps, which will create 10 times the exposure to your users, 10 times the chance they will buy one or more of the apps.


Buff don’t polish

Developers smarter than me have proposed the idea of putting just enough effort into an application to allow it to be useful without pissing their users off. I whole heartedly agree with this, especially given the other advice we provided earlier to the iPhone developer regarding focused functions.

Draw the line in the right place though, make the app professional and make sure it works. Nothing turns people off more than an app that crashes or loses data.

Hint: Be careful not to over polish; you do not need to be a perfectionist. As long as it does what you say it does you are good to go, get it into the market and see if anyone cares. If it is really popular then you can add polish.

That being said, make the app complete; help pages and about screens make the app look professional and provide extra information that lets your users know you are serious about maintaining the app. It also provides a location to advertise you, your development company and your other apps.

Make sure your graphics and icons are professional and clear, especially if this is a game or graphic application. Be inventive; many users make decisions simply by looking at the icon or the promotional images and screen shots in the app store. Make them flashy but also representative, no one likes to be misled. When users have choices (and the likelihood of yours being being the only app of its type in the app store is almost zero) they will go with the app that looks more professional, even if it is not as good.


Release Early; Update Often

The final piece of advice in the buff don’t polish vein deserves its own heading. You are releasing your app early to get feedback from your customers (exposure), use it. They are a fickle bunch and demand attention, give it to them.

If good ideas are suggested incorporate them and release an update. If there are bugs reported, fix them and release an update.

WARNING:
If the bug (or bugs) are a show stopper and you take too long to respond it could kill the app forever, it will drop in the ratings and it will never recover.

By updating often your users will develop loyalty that you can use when you release the next version or your next app.

Quick Note: Updates no longer take your app back to the top of the Release Date list, so you cannot use this as a way of getting more exposure, but you should respect your user base and make the appropriate changes.

So your app is ready now what?


Getting Your App Approved by Apple

Apple is fairly clear in their instructions about what they want you to do before you submit. They control the process, there is no use fighting the system. Do what they ask and make sure all of their criteria are met.

Here is the biggest one…no crashes.

There is zero tolerance for crashes and I am sure this does not need explanation.

That being said your app should also do what you say it does. The testers are not stupid and have seen lots of apps, if your app does not perform the function it is designed for, if there are buttons that are not connected, if there are links that do not work it will get rejected.

Another big one…read the Developer Program License Agreement (Linked Here) and make sure you are not violating anything in it. Apple is very clear; if you violate anything in the license agreement your app will be rejected.

Follow the Human Interface Guidelines (Linked Here). Apple is all about user experience, if you try to do anything that deviates from the expected usage of the iPhone they will reject your app. You are investing a lot of time in the development of your app, take the time and read the guidelines, make sure you follow them. If you are concerned ask Apple the question, they would rather tell you in advance than waste the testers time and reject your app.

Fill out the device list; as part of the app submission Apple asks you to identify the device list and the operating system versions that are compatible with your app. Make sure you fill this out properly and make it as inclusive as possible. You want to be exposed to as many devices as you can.

WARNING: Don’t stretch the truth, if your app isn’t tested on a platform assume it doesn’t work. Apple will test it and will reject your app if it fails on a platform you say you support.

Apple actually provides a FAQ detailing important tips to remember when submitting your app, read them (Linked Here). Remember even if it only take a few days to get your app approved, each time it gets rejected is a delay in getting into the market and results in lost revenue.

Here is a short summary of some of the other items that will get you rejected:

Keywords: Part of the submission process is providing keywords to assist in the search for your app. The keywords must be accurate and applicable. You can not use copyrighted or trademarked names from other games.

Sexual Content: ’nuff said, if you really want to go there you are treading on thin ice with Apple.

Easter eggs: Apple understands the appeal of hidden gems within your app, but they insist on the developer identifying them, if you do not and they stumble upon them they will reject the app.

Error Messages Make sure you tell the user exactly what is happening at all times, if something fails, tell the user, if the network is offline, tell the user, if there are any erroneous conditions, tell the user. This goes back to user experience, Apple does not want the user frustrated in the use of the “Apple” device.

Copyright Infringement: This is not just an approval issue but a legal obligation. Make sure you are not using copyrighted images or ideas. Make sure you are not using trademarked names. Even if it slips through Apples filter you do not want to be served with a cease and desist order. The easiest place to get caught out is images and sounds, if you are not sure where you got the image or the sound assume it is not yours to do with as you please. There are plenty of locations on the web (Creative Commons is a great one) where you can get free content, use these resources.

Linking to private frameworks The Apple API does not give you unlimited access to the internals of the iPhone or the iTouch. You may find yourself scratching your head wondering how to do something, and in some cases Apple may have decided that you just aren’t allowed to do it. There are plenty of “private frameworks”, libraries that provide access to the lower layers of the iPhone hardware. If Apple detects that you are using these they will likely reject the app.

If you are interested, there are web sites that provide a forum for venting about reasons, real or imagined, justified or unjust, that apps were rejected by Apple. Check them out, it never hurts to find more information (apprejections.com)


Free versus Paid Versions

One method that developers use to attract attention and to get people to try their app is a free but limited version. Traditionally this has worked extremely well, especially in the PC gaming world.

The theory goes like this…get your customers to try and enjoy the free version and they will like it and then pay for the full version. This still doesn’t solve the problem of how to attract the customers but it does remove the reluctance to try the app in the first place.

We will discuss the marketing of the app in the next section but I wanted to provide a few pros and cons of using free version before we started.

Pros
– Allows your customers to try the app and determine if they like it.
– You can advertise your paid version and other apps inside the app.
– You can upgrade them automatically with in-app purchases.
– If they like your app they will upgrade to the paid version.

Cons
– They may decide they don’t like it and not upgrade.
– You may put too much functionality in the free version and they don’t have to upgrade.
– Your customer didn’t have to pay for it, they may not even have tried it properly, but they are allowed to leave comments and ratings, and they may decide to trash your app in the ratings.
– You may actually reduce your paid sales.

The decision to do a free version may very well hinge on the cost of your paid app. One dollar (or $0.99) is not a huge barrier to entry and most people will just pay the dollar and try your app. In this case you are better off forgetting about the free app and just hoping for the casual sales. On the other hand if you intend to charge $5 or $10 for you app then you should seriously consider a free version, most people will not spend $5 on a whim and will want to get a sense of the capabilities of your app before paying.

Apple puts limits on what you can and can’t do in the free version. Basically it must look and act like a real app, no grayed out buttons, no obviously restricted functionality, no nag messages about upgrading. You can do the in-app purchase of the paid version but you can not do this with annoying pop-ups. Make it a nice experience and your customers will want to upgrade.


Where Do I List my app in the App Store?

I am not sure if you have ever looked but finding new or specific apps in iTunes is a brutal experience. The main sections on the front page are all controlled by Apple. Unless your app is on one of the top charts (and if you are you don’t need this article anyway) you will never show up on the front page. Navigating to the various categories is hard, so assume user will have to stumble across your app and act accordingly. They might find it in Search so make sure your key words are good.

List your app in the App Store category that makes sense. Apple will not let you list in an invalid category (i.e. putting a game in the GPS section) but they do let you move things around a bit. Try placing your game in a sub-category that has less items…Dice Games is always a good choice. There are fewer apps there and you might end up on the front page, the down side is that fewer people bother to look in that sub-category, so on average you will likely see just as many views regardless of were you are listed.

On the iPhone and iTouch App Store you will be visible on a front page for a bit longer. One page in each category is sorted by release date, so for at least a day you will be on the front page. Apple use to move your app back to the top of the list every time an update comes out, but they found they were flooded with updates, so they now only list the app on the top of the list the first time. this causes an interesting side effect, program options being used to create different apps. As of the writing of this article there are 20 version of Tic-Tac-Toe, each in a different colour or with different icons. Each one got to the top of the list the day it was released. Did this help sales of the app? Only the developer knows, but I assure you Apple will close that hole eventually as well.

Some people claim that you can “game” the system. Manipulate your app, your preferences, your keywords; change the price, make the app free one day, paid the next, run holiday specials; all in hopes of getting a different place on the App Store lists. I am not a big fan of this, go ahead and try it, doesn’t really hurt, but do your homework and try the various viral marketing ideas shown below, you will get much bigger return on your time investment.

OK, so your app is approved, now comes the hard part, how do you let people know about it?


Create a Web Presence

You are going to be telling people about your app (advertising) so you need a landing pad for them. The App Store is an obvious choice for this landing pad but it is embedded inside iTunes. It is good to have as many other locations for your customers to find your app as possible.

Create a web page to advertise your app. Depending on how prolific you are (how many apps not kids) you may decide to create a web site dedicated to all of your apps, your choice, but create a destination for your app, somewhere to send people when they ask about it, somewhere you can post information and notices.

Every little bit of extra exposure helps and it makes you look that much more professional. Submit the web site to be crawled by your favorite search engines, do not assume this will happen automatically.

Create a Facebook Page for your app, it doesn`t cost anything and provides a different location to advertise the app. Open all the privacy settings, you want everyone to know about it. Use this as a destination for all of you in-game status updates (see below), in addition to posting on your users Facebook pages.

Same goes with Twitter, if you are going to integrate Twitter updates into your app (for games especially) then create a page where people can go to see all of the information. Create a Twitter feed for all your apps, allow your users to post information there, helpful tips, upgrade requests, create a community around your app.

If you are creative, or know anyone creative, create a marketing video and post it on YouTube. Using iMovie and a simplescreen capture tool and the iPhone simulator you can easily create a video that highlights the features of your app and make it visible to everyone who wants to stumble across it.


Tell People

You have created the marketing presence and now you need to tell people about it. I am not going to talk about banner ads and other traditional marketing mechanisms. If you have a marketing budget that is definitely the way to go, you need to get your app in front of your potential customers, banner ads and google ad words is a fairly normal avenue. If you don`t have a budget then you need to be more creative.

Tell your social circles about the app, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace (does anyone use that anymore?). Send them links to the your web page, your web page, your twitter page. Encourage them to tell their social circles. Tweet about your app, invite people to become friends of your Facebook page. Don’t be afraid to post links to any reviews that are posted online, be proud of your app, tell your friends about the success.

WARNING: Don’t become annoying. Your social circle will be happy to heard about your app once. But if you spam them every day they will tune out


Get your App Reviewed

As much as you might be reluctant to submit to someone else’s review, comments and critisisms get your app submitted to specialty app review sites. Each one will require you to fill in a submission form talking about your app. Be aware it might not get reviewed so submit as many as you can. Even though the iPhone is geared towards casual usages and impulse downloads some users will always read the reviews to learn about new apps and new ideas.

Be happy with any review you do receive, read it, absorb it, take the comments and update your app if required. All publicity is good publicity. Each time the app is mentioned it will generate a few more hits and a few new downloads. If the app is good it will slowly become popular.

Every time you get reviewed Tweet about it, post to your Facebook status, let people know.

Here are some of the more populate review sites:

Touch Arcade (for games obviously)

The Portable Gamer

Slide To Play

148 Apps


Reaching Out from Within Your App

In keeping with the mantra that you need to keep telling people about your app and your happy users it is possible to automatically, from within your app, allow people to post to their own Facebook or Twitter pages and tell their social circle about your app. This is what eventually generates the exponential interest that makes the app highly successful.

Both Facebook and Twitter have APIs that allow you to embed this capability in your app. For example, I have posted high scores for various games to my Twitter page as well as posted a GPS description of my lunch time run. Maybe no one really cares where I ran at lunch but they know what app I used to track it and I am sure that generated a little bit extra interest in that app.

For a little bit of extra work in building the app you can add in the “Post to Facbook” button and allow your customers to reach out and do your advertising for you.

Facebook API
Twitter API

There are no guarantees that your app will be successful, especially if you are doing this as a hobby but with a little bit of extra effort you can make sure at least some people know about it and maybe put a few dollars in your pocket.

Share Share on Twitter Share on Facebook

Disruptive Innovation = Market Success

I stumbled upon this “old” article that perfectly captures my frustration at the executive response to in-house innovation that I have encountered over and over again in my career in high-tech.

INNOVATE ON PURPOSE Why do we want innovations yet fear innovation?

Working now as an advisor to early stage tech startups, at various stages of their maturity, I am realizing that the resistance to innovation is not just a big company problem.

…we have met the enemy of innovation and he is us…

How many times you have been asked this question by an investor, executive, or internal marketing rep…

“XZY Company just released a new product that is kicking our ass, we need sometime new, what can you build for us?”

Which always seems to follow shortly after a meeting with the same people where you or your team demonstrated something new, or suggested, for the 100th time, that the product should be upgraded, overhauled, or thrown out, only to be met with the response…

Why would we spend time/effort/money on that, the product is selling just fine.

Alternatively, the same group that rejected the last new idea from your R&D team will show up in the lunch room and remark…

“I met these guys at a party/at lunch/on a cold call, they have some really cool technology, we should get a partnership going”

Seriously??? Why do you even have an internal development team? Are you letting them innovate? Have you asked them to innovate? Have you forcedthem to innovate?

While bringing in external partners can be good, if it is complementary and not overlapping, it is the best way to stifle innovation inside your company as your internal team senses that their contributions are not valued and they are not being given a chance to produce exciting new tech.

Product creation is not magic, innovation is not free.

Every product that appears on the market and takes your breath away is a result of months and years of trial and error, customer feedback and re-work. It only looks like magic because you don’t know about it until it was launched.

Someone…someone else…was spending the time and effort to innovate in a market where you and your company are cowering, hoping desperately that your customer will be happy with the current/next version, will upgrade and enable you to make your sales numbers for the next quarter.

Innovation can be very disruptive; disruptive to the products already in the market. And don’t fool yourself, there will be disruptive innovation in your market if it is successful in any way. They (the innovators) will come for you and your healthy sales margins. When I am looking at new markets in which to innovate I look for markets where there are established products, nice margins, complacent companies and customers that are complaining and are desperate for something new.

Ask yourself, how did you get where you are today? How did your current product get build and launched? If you are in a small or medium size company, in all likelihood, it was developed by a group that is no longer with the company. A group that innovated because they had to, because they had no product to sell, because they were selling into an existing market, against a larger competitor and had to innovate in order to make any sales at all.

Success can ultimately be self-defeating. Your company will become complacent as it gets addicted to it’s sales and profits. Sales are a good thing, and sales, obviously, are necessary for the company to move forward but sales can kill innovations.

Sales can make you afraid to innovate, afraid to rock the boat and afraid to upset your customers by potentially getting the next version wrong. Sales will make you chase new features and customer specials. Your product will become a ball of duct tape, instead of creating the next great thing.

Don’t fool yourself though, those same customers that you are so carefully protecting from your internal innovation are looking at each new product that comes across their desk and will jump on the one that thrills them, dropping you like a hot potato.

What is the solution?

I took a course in startups a long time ago and the one comment that stuck with me was…

“If you have developed a successful product, sell it and start again“.

Which is a radical way of looking at it but it goes to the point. If you are good at innovating new products, do it again, and again.

Now maybe this stuck with me because I agreed with it, which is how lemmings fall over cliffs, but the core of the comment leads back to where we started.

Don’t become complacent, don’t become addicted to your sales, don’t believe your own sales bullshit, don’t believe you are the best.

A better product will always come along, a different way of solving the problem, a disruptive innovation.

Things to try…

  1. Challenge your internal resources to innovate, and not just in product development. Challenge your sales team to find better ways to sell, your marketing team to find better ways to generate leads. Challenge you support team to get faster at responding to customers issues.

Challenge your teams…stop asking them why and ask them why not!

2, Give your teams time to experiment. Even a day a month, dedicated just to letting the them do whatever they want, to try new ideas.

3. Give them a forum to show their ideas. Celebrate the innovations, even the bad ones, show that you are engaged and interested and it will lead to other ideas and other innovations.

4. Take a chance on the ideas. If there are good ideas act on them, integrate them into your product, start new product lines, go after new markets.

Innovating from within is a scary concept and claims resources, time and money. Results are not always immediate but you will find that in the long term the result is a company that is successful and more importantly…is still alive.

WoD “Hails” – Double Pyramid

Kettle bell workout with a bit of cardio thrown in for flavour!! Let’s name this one “Hails” 😉

kettlebell_swing2

  • 5 KettleBell Swings (double handed) 20kg bell
  • 10 Sets of Stairs (up and down)
  • 10 Wall Balls (18lb ball)
  • 30 sec rest
  • 10 KB, 8 Stairs, 10 WB, 30 sec
  • 15 KB, 6 Stairs, 10 WB, 30 sec
  • 20 KB, 4 Stairs, 10 WB, 30 sec
  • 25 KB, 2 Stairs, 10 WB, 30 sec
  • 30 KB, 1 minute rest
  • 25 KB, 2 Stairs, 10 WB, 30 sec
  • 20 KB, 4 Stairs, 10 WB, 30 sec
  • 15 KB, 6 Stairs, 10 WB, 30 sec
  • 10 KB, 8 Stairs, 10 WB, 30 sec
  • 5 KB, 10 Stairs, 10 WB, 30 sec

Totals: 60 sets of stairs, 180 KB swings, 100 wall balls.

UPDATE: Workout complete, target time is 30min, I managed 32min.

For time.

Enjoy!!

The Road to the Ultra

Not sure what I was thinking but I just added a Spartan Ultra Beast to my race calendar for 2015. If you are not familiar with Spartan races they are obstacle courses races usually held at ski hills. Lots of climbing, lots of running, lots of tough obstacles, and if you fall off anything, lots of burpees.

ultra beast

A “normal” Beast is 22+ km with 6 or 7 long climbs thrown in. My time last year at the 2014 Mont Ste Marie Beast was 3hr42 and I was hoping to improve on that time this year. The 2015 MSM Ultra Beast will require participants to complete the Beast course, then go out and do it again, with added terrain and obstacles thrown in. I figure we are looking at anywhere from 45 to 50km. So my goal will be to finish in under 8hrs.

This race has now thrown my training into a bit of a mess.

I had already decided to do a half-ironman (Timberman 70.3), so I have been adding swimming and biking into my training mix along with the current running and strength training. The Ultra has been for scheduled the week before the Timberman. Seeing as how I had a hard time walking for three days after the Beast I am not sure that aiming for a PB at the Timberman is reasonable 😉

So…I have changed plans slightly and will now aim for the Ironman 70.3 in Princeton a month after the Ultra…one problem solved.

I have never run a marathon distance race before and I had decided after last summer that I never intended to run a marathon. Short races (ok less than half marathon distance) seem to be my sweet spot but the need to rise to the challenge of the Ultra is unrelenting and I want to be ready.

So…I just downloaded a marathon training plan that will ramp my running to the 42km range in time for the Ultra…second problem solved.

If only planning was the same as doing…

So here are some of the other things that still concern me…

1. Race time nutrition – I have done races at 1hr, 2hrs, 3hrs, 4hrs and 6 hrs duration. I know when my body starts to run out of fuel. Up to 2hrs I have realized I only need water. At 3 and 4hrs I find a gel pack every 45mins is sufficient. At 5 and 6hrs I discovered, painfully, that the gels are no longer enough and I will need to test what I can eat, when I can eat and whether I can keep it down. I have experimented with gels and sport drink mixes and at high sugar content levels it upsets the stomach. A gel without water or a sport drink mixed too strong will just come right back up. For the Ultra I will need solid food and a reasonable amount of it, the question will be when/what/how often, this all needs to be experimented with and resolved well before race day. There is lots of information out there but everyone is different and what works for one person may not work for the next.

ultra beast 22. Base Miles – I need to make sure the miles are in place. The Beast may have been almost 4 hrs but the mileage was still only at 23km, the Ultra will be double that and will have lots of vertical so I need to make sure my aerobic base is in place. I want to be fast so it will not just be long slow miles there will be some speed work in there as well.

3. Cross Training – I do lots of strength training and will be putting some serious miles on the bike. Biking is very good cross training for climbing and the strength training will help as well (as long as I don’t forget leg day). Even the cross training will need to ramp up. I need to test my endurance on the climbs. I cramped up big time at the Spartan Beast Worlds in 2014 when I passed through the 5hr mark (I finished in 6hr30, 200th out of 5000). There was serious vertical mileage in that race and I wasn’t as ready as I should have been, that will not happen again.

4. Equipment – Shoes/Socks? Do I stash a spare pair to change at the end of the first loop. Shorts/Shirt? Same question. Hydration Pack? Do I run with one? Traditionally I loath to carry a water pack, relying on the water stations on the course. Do I carry food with me or leave some at the end of the first loop and go without during each loop? I know the second loop will not be the same as the first in terms of nutritional requirements.

As I figure this stuff out I will post it back here, I hope it will be useful information.

5 Running Myths Busted

This is a great article to read if you are thinking of starting running or have been scared away in the past. Share it with your non-running friends, get them hooked.

Full Article Here : http://runningmagazine.ca/five-running-myths-busted/

running_logo_RM

—Excerpt—

Running has become a popular and important health-promoting activity for tens of thousands of Canadians. It is relatively inexpensive, can be done almost anywhere, and at all times of the year. There are many benefits of running — as little as once or twice a week —to your overall health and well-being and running can also be a fun and social activity to share with family and friends.

running

However, there are a few myths and misconceptions that continue to exist among the general public. It’s important to know the truth and to share the facts as to prevent others from being discouraged. Here are but a few common myths that relate to running, and the truth behind them.

rest of article here

Musings of an Aging Middle Distance Runner (or Is there really a marathon on my bucket list?)

September and back to school always brings with it a desire to set goals for next year. Forget that I still have three (4,5,6??) more races in the calendar before the end of the year (including Spartan Beast World Championships and the MEC Ottawa Half Marathon).

Before setting new goals I always feel the need to determine if I achieved my current goals and assess whether a healthy dose of reality is needed when setting new ones. Looking back at Facebook from last year I see that my 2014 goals were:

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 9.56.31 AM

  • turned 50, ok that was a no brainer 😉
  • yoga teacher certification, done, teaching yoga regularly, super happy I did it and would recommend it to anyone
  • Spartan Beast – 3.5 hrs…almost…I ran the 21km obstacle trail run in 3:43, finished 78th out of 2000 and cut 30 mins off my time from last year…I am going to put this in the success column!!
  • Ottawa Marathon…the thought was that if I had to train to run for 4 hours to get ready for the Beast why not train for a marathon…and here is where the soul searching begins…

As I started my training earlier this year I very quickly realized what I already knew…

I am not a long distance runner!

Just this week I converted the marathon I had in my race calendar to a half…I chickened out. But what is the point of destroying my knees and legs to attain something unrealistic.

I have met and trained with a lot of really good distance runners, both road and trail. I have talked to many people that are training for their first marathon or half marathon and are working really hard to get there, serious life transformation and bucket list stuff!

But try as I might, putting in the distance to get ready for a marathon makes my body hurt in ways that is shouldn’t hurt. I want to run those distances but my body rebels.

It should also be noted that I am hyper-competitve. I stopped running triathlons when I was younger because my career in high-tech was taking off and I didn’t have 20 hours a week to train anymore. I knew my finish times would start to rise and I wasn’t willing to race if I couldn’t finish strong.

So even today, at 50, my thinking goes along the lines of…if I am going to run a marathon I don’t just want to finish it, I want to finish well!

I ran, climbed, jumped and crawled for 4 hours up and down a ski hill on muddy trails to complete the Spartan Beast but the thought of running 3+ hours on the road makes me cringe. I figure I have an excuse, two ACL surgeries behind me (soccer, both knees) but at the end of the day I really prefer to run fast for shorter distances.

This is not a new revelation to me either. I have been running, literally, my entire life. I have run fast 5km and 10km races (17mins and 35mins respectively) and gone under 60mins for 15km. I have run a 4:20 mile (sure I was 25 when I did it but that is beside the point).

After university I got into triathlons, seriously into triathlons, and had many successes at the Olympic distance races (1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10 km run). The target time in those days was 2hrs for an Olympic distance race, I hit 2:01 at my peak, finishing 6th overall in a local Ottawa race in 1990 (a time that would have won the same race last year). Even in those days my distance was 10 or 15km, regardless of the amount of training I put in, I like the middle distance stuff better. In fact my PB at the 10km distance was in a triathlon.

After some serious soul searching this summer I have decided that my sweet spot is 15km, I figure training for that distance allows me to go up to a half marathon without killing myself and to put in the distance I need as a base for the speed work necessary to drop my 5 and 10k times down where I want them.

Cue the Ironman…hanging with all these distance guys (and gals) this summer the inevitable comments were heard…given I have done triathlons in the past, why don’t I do an IronMan? Seriously? I wasn’t interested in running an Ironman when I was young why would I start now? Distance running does seems to appeal to an older crowd so it is not a totally ridiculous comment, except…I hate long distance running 😉

But..the temptation is still there…ok how about a Half Ironman or as the cool kids are calling them these days an Ironman 70.3? Sure I just need to get my swimming back in form, get back on the bike and push my running where I wanted to push it anyway…

OK…Goals for 2015

  • Run a sub-40min 10km
  • Run a sub-60min 15km
  • Run a 1:20hr half marathon
  • Do an Ironman 70.3

The question that needs to be asked is whether these goals are attainable.

I have run that fast in the past, I am stronger than I was when I was 25. I have dropped close to 15lbs this summer, still not at my racing weight of 165 when I was 25 but you trade off strength for weight, so why not?

Another thing that I realized this summer is that training to get faster at distances that you are already running is totally different than training to peak at a distance you have never run before. Most amateur running programs are geared towards building your distances and endurance to peak at your target race, be it a 10km, half or a full marathon. I am looking at pushing my times down at a distance I am already running. Tempo runs, distance days and track work look different when your goal is to go faster each time you hit the street.

So, what is attainable?

Distance Fastest Current 2015 Goal
5km 17min 21min 19min
10km 35min 50min 39min
15km 58min 1:20hr 59min
21km 2hr (don’t ask) stay tuned 😉 1:20hr

Over the next days, weeks and months I plan to post my training techniques and results and we can see where we are next summer.

I am a big proponent of cross-training so that will be a central concept of the training this year. Working towards an Ironman 70.3 really gives me no choice but to cross-train. Back in the day I was working in high-tech and trying to fit in 20 training hours a week, now I own a gym. While I still work long hours to make the gym successful I can train at work and go back to my desk sweaty without seeming too far out of place!

I have ideas for posts on strength and flexibility as they relate to improving your running times. If I am going to do the Ironman 70.3 I will have to fit in swimming, running, biking, weight training, circuit training and yoga to get where I want to go. I will share what I learn, if it is useful I am glad.

OK, enough for now, need to think about the Spartan World Championship coming in 4 days.

stretch

Workout of the Day – “Nico”

Crossfit likes to name their WoDs so I figure I will start naming my workouts. Only the hard ones though, the intense ones, the ones that make me feel like I am going to pass out or throw up.

Did an awesome workout today with my #1 training partner (wanted to throw up after the 8th repeat but kept it in).

I think I will call this one “Nico”

  • 5 pushups
  • 2 flights of stairs, up and down
  • 5 chin ups
  • 2 flights of stairs up and down (see a pattern?)
  • 10 wall balls (18 or 20lb ball)
  • 2 flights of stairs up and down
  • 5 single arm snatch with 30lb dumbell (5 each arm)
  • 2 flights of stairs up and down
  • …REPEAT 10 TIMES…

Totals:

  • 50 pushups, 50 chinups, 100 wallball, 100 single arm snatch, 80 flights of stairs, up and down

Track your time, target is 30 mins.

If you don’t have stairs substitute 20 secs of burbees or skipping or something that gets your heart beating hard.

If you like the look of this workout and want to train with us give me a shout!!spartan barb wire

email – steve [at] danlargo.com

cell – +1 613 797 6222

skype – danlargo

 

 

 

Yoga Continues on the Beach at Mont Ste Marie

Once again we will be holding a yoga class on the beach at MSM (at Lac Fournier) this Saturday, Aug 16th at 9am! Start morning to kick off the day with a lively yoga class. We had lots of fun last week and I am sure it will be great again!

There will also be classes Saturday the 9th, 16th, 23rd and the 30th, so mark your calendars!yoga beach MSM

A trail run will follow around 10:30 for anyone that is interested!!

Photo 2014-07-19, 11 29 50 AM beach yoga1 beach yoga 2

http://www.velomsm.com/yoga-is-back-starting-this-weekend/

—From the VeloMSM web site—-

Yoga at the beach was pretty popular last Saturday and will continue on Saturday mornings at 9am for August 9th, 16th and 30th with Steve Davis of Greco Colonnade (& Velo MSM trail runner) instructing.

Cost is $10/person or $20/family with half donated back to Velo MSM by Steve (thank you!)!

If anyone’s game for a trail run afterwards, Steve and others will be heading out after 10am (come prepared).

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